Flowers for slain trooper Chris Gadd begin to collect outside Washington State Patrol District 7 Headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Flowers for slain trooper Chris Gadd begin to collect outside Washington State Patrol District 7 Headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Police: Lynnwood man consumed cannabis, beer before crash into trooper

Trooper Chris Gadd, 27, was stopped along I-5 when he was hit and killed early Saturday. Troopers suspect Raul Benitez Santana was impaired.

MARYSVILLE — The Lynnwood man accused of crashing into a state trooper on I-5, killing him, admitted to smoking cannabis and drinking beer before the crash, according to a new police report.

Raul Benitez Santana, 32, made his first appearance in court Monday. The courtroom was filled with more than a dozen state troopers and other members of law enforcement.

Everett District Court Commissioner Jennifer Millett found probable cause for vehicular homicide and set bail at $1 million.

Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd, 27, had stopped along the right shoulder of I-5 near 136th Street NE while on routine patrol for intoxicated drivers just before 3 a.m. Saturday.

A witness reported Gadd was parked in a marked patrol vehicle with his lights off, according to the police report filed in Everett District Court. The witness reportedly had dashboard camera footage of the crash.

A black SUV, traveling at a “high rate of speed,” veered to the right and struck the trooper’s car, according to authorities. Gadd was pronounced dead at the scene.

A white van traveling south also collided with the black SUV, police said. The driver of the van was taken to the hospital with a broken leg and wrist. Five passengers in the van were not injured, according to the sheriff’s office.

The SUV driver, Benitez Santana, stayed at the scene. Police arrested him for investigation of vehicular homicide. Prosecutors later added a vehicular assault allegation for the injuries to the van driver.

Authorities took Benitez Santana to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett for an evaluation, then booked him into the Snohomish County Jail, according to police. A judge approved a warrant to get a sample of the driver’s blood to test for impairment, the report said.

Benitez Santana reported smoking cannabis and drinking a Coors Light before the early morning crash, wrote sheriff’s deputy Chris Mashburn. Later, the driver admitted it was two Coors Lights, according to the deputy’s report. A Breathalyzer test, given about 3½ hours after the crash, reportedly had a reading of 0.047 blood alcohol content.

Millett noted Benitez Santana has a “significant” history of speeding. He received speeding tickets in 2012 and 2015, as well as a ticket for going 49 mph over the speed limit in 2020.

On Saturday morning, a law enforcement motorcade traveled from the crash site to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office. Southbound I-5 remained closed for about nine hours north of Marysville. The freeway reopened around noon.

Gadd was born in Pasco and graduated from Kentlake High School in Kent, according to a state patrol press release. He went on to attend Green River College and Tacoma Community College, earning his EMT certification. He was married and had a 2-year-old daughter, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside WSP District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed in a collision on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside WSP District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed in a collision on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

He began working for the agency in September 2021 as a trooper cadet assigned to Grandview, Yakima County. His father, David Gadd, is also a state trooper, in King County. His sister, Jacqueline Gadd, is a state trooper in Texas.

Gadd was part of the 116th Trooper Basic Training class. Upon graduation in November 2022, he received two honors: the Top Collision Investigation Award and the Top Academic Award. After graduation, he was assigned to Marysville.

Gadd is survived by his wife, Cammryn, daughter Kaelyn, father David, mother Gillian and sister Jacqueline.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @snocojon.

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